Reinforcements, either in the form of Carmelo Anthony, a backup point guard or a reliable big man, will not be arriving any time soon for the Knicks.
"It takes two to tango," Donnie Walsh said Tuesday.
Walsh, the Knicks president, has until the Feb.24 trading deadline to make a deal that could significantly upgrade the roster (Anthony) or fortify the team (Marc Gasol) for the playoffs. The only news regarding the Knicks' pursuit of Anthony was Walsh announcing he has a self-imposed gag order on everything Carmelo-related.
"I'm not saying anything about Denver," Walsh said, "nothing...because it gets misconstrued and rearranged."
A more immediate concern is the recent play of Mike D'Antoni's team, which has lost two straight heading into a three-game road trip that begins Wednesday night in Houston. The Knicks (22-18) have dropped four of their last five and have been alarmingly soft on defense. Phoenix scored 129 points on Monday, just two games after Utah put up 131.
The loss to Phoenix had Amar'e Stoudemire fuming as he criticized the team's lack of enthusiasm and energy, particularly on defense. It was also why D'Antoni spent most of Tuesday's two-hour practice focusing on defense.
"Nobody takes anything negative from what (Amar'e) says, I say, or Coach would say," Raymond Felton said. "Anything (Amar'e) says he would say to our face."
While Stoudemire has praised the Knicks' defensive play this season, he's not shy about being critical either. And if those public comments bother D'Antoni, the coach isn't letting on.
In fact, D'Antoni barely flinched two months ago when Stoudemire said after a win in Charlotte that the one and only coach to teach him defense was Suns head coach Alvin Gentry.
D'Antoni also knows it's in his and the team's best interests to maintain a healthy working relationship with the Knicks' best player in more than a decade. For example, Stoudemire was allowed to remain in Phoenix while the Knicks practiced in Los Angeles two weeks ago. And when Stoudemire spouts off after a loss in which the Knicks were outscored 99-87 while Stoudemire was on the floor, D'Antoni plays it cool.
"Everybody gets upset," he said. "I get upset; (Amar'e) gets upset, the team gets upset. Everybody has got to play better defense. We know what we need to do. I'm encouraged by how they responded in practice."
Stoudemire, coming off a season-high 41points, was encouraged by how his teammates approached Tuesday's film session and practice. He even reiterated that with the Knicks being the third-youngest team in the NBA "there are mistakes to be made. But I think if we keep working and playing hard we can work over those mistakes."
D'Antoni says he is not making any major changes although there is a strong possibility that Ronny Turiaf, who missed Monday's game with a sore hip, will be available.
Eddy Curry went through his most extensive practice with the team, but D'Antoni could not say when, if ever, Curry will play again. "I think he's doing better but he's still not quite in shape," he said. "I can't do it until he gets perfectly in shape. I can't risk it." If Curry is not traded by Feb. 24, the Knicks will likely negotiate a buyout of his contract, which expires July 1.
Read more: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]